In 1955 Robert L Katz wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review called “Skills of an Effective administrator,” the article argued that managers need three core skills; Technical, Human and Cognitive, for a manager to be effective they need to manage these skills depending on their level of management. This paper argues that although it has been over half a century since the article was written it is still relevant to modern day Managers. We will also look at how the change in technology has caused the work of manages to change. Erkin Atyekin works in the capacity of General Manager at the Novotel St Kilda, he was formerly the area Manager for Accor Hotels in Victoria. The Novotel hotel is a 211 Room hotel which is part of the Accor Global Hotel chain. Erkins main role is to look over the hotel as a whole and ensure that the target and objectives that are set by the company are met. Firstly we will look at how Katz skills are reflected in Mr Atyekins work, we will then compare the skills that are not reflected accurately in Erkins work, Finally we will evaluate how technology is constantly changing and influencing the work of modern day managers.
Of the three skills that are mentioned above, the two core skills that are reflected accurately in Erkins work compared to Katz theory are the Human Skills and Conceptual Skills. Human Skills also known as interpersonal skills are considered as “The ability to work cooperatively with others, to communicate effectively, to resolve conflict, and to be a team player....”(Katz. 1955) A manager who has good human skills has the ability to communicate effectively to their team, Erkin uses mediums such as daily management meetings and weekly head of department meetings to communicate to his management team and once a month he addresses the entire team through Employee of the month awards. Another sub skill of interpersonal skills is the ability to motivate a team. Erkin explained that motivation is important to all management levels within an organisation. A motivated team works at a higher standard then a disengaged team. Methods used by the hotel include incentive programs, Staff awards and recognition through the hotels guests feedback survey. Each employee is motivated by different methods, some staff are motivated by financial incentives and some simply need a little, Erkin finds it important to his management technique to take the time and find out what motivates each of the managers that report to him. The interpersonal skills allow a manager to motivate his team when it is low on morale or in need of direction on a task.
Katz theory states that conceptual skills are important to all levels of management; this skill becomes more important as a manager moves up the ranks of management. Conceptual skills are defined as the ability to see the business as a whole, a manager with good conceptual skills sees the business not only as the one entity but also each individual department and area of the entity. Atyekin works at the top of the hotel Hierarchy he spends majority of his time making sure that all the individual departments of the hotel are working towards the one common goal, this could include putting teams together to work on special tasks or working on a continuous improvement project. After reflecting on the results of the Management interview survey it becomes apparent that 42% of management spend the majority of their time using conceptual skills to solve abstract and complex situations. Erkin uses his Conceptual skills when observing the business as a whole through systems such as employee surveys, guests satisfaction surveys and by comparing his hotel to other hotels in the area. By using these tools he can see when an area of the hotel requires more specific attention. By observing the hotel as a whole Erkin can ensure that each department is pulling its weight and when their are problems he can break them down to find the root cause, this information can then be communicated to the rest of the team . Erkins job accurately reflects two of the three skills in Katz theory, the third of the skills being the technical skills are still used by upper management.
The use of Technical skills was understated by Katz theory in comparison to Erkins Management style and they are not reflected the same in Erkins work. A technical skill is the job specific skills that a person learns so they can complete their job, this could be as an accountant , receptionist or a baker. Katz theory showed that a manager at the top of the business does not need his technical skills as much as a manager on the front line. Robinson stated that “ one reason managers must have technical skills is that these skills allow the manager to train, direct and evaluate subordinates performing tasks”. Erkin describes himself as a manager who knows “a little about a lot of things” this is due to his wide experience an movements throughout hotels, Erkins uses these Technical skills to assist other departments around the hotel, whether it is helping complete a group accommodation contract or helping to complete some of the financial data input. By working along side his front line and middle managers it creates a stronger culture among the staff and closes the gap between the different levels of management. Since Robert L Katz wrote his theory on Management skills in 1955 a lot has change in terms of the technology that is used in the day to day role of a Manager.
With the ongoing advancements in technology and computer systems managers are finding that they can complete tasks in a more accurate and timely manner. The hotel uses email as well as a common networked share drive to communicate up coming events and accommodation group movements, internally the use of email has increased the communication flow around the property and improved the ability to keep all staff up to date, externally we can send emails around the world and receive responses within an hour. The Accor hotel chain has two types of Intranet, a local intranet which covers the area of the world i.e. Asia Pacific, as well as a global Intranet, these two systems allow hotels to communicate team and company objectives as well as new procedures which may be useful to other hotels. By creating this open forum hotels can reduce time spent creating procedures as they may be able to use a procedure from another hotel. Accor has started to reduce its off site training sessions and introduced online learning classrooms, these training sessions can be logged onto at certain times and people all around Australia can site in a virtual classroom and communicate with each other through the internet. These virtual classrooms have reduced travelling costs and time. With the introduction of teleconferences and video calls, several managers from different hotels around the world can contact each other and take part in a meeting via the phone or internet. Their is also a large range of Computing systems which have made working out complex accounts and creating reports easier, the Novotel and several other Accor properties use Fidelio for their hotel computing system, this is a point of sale system which creates reservations as well as keeping track of guests accounts, another system is called EzyRms, which is a system which generates reports, all the manager needs to do is enter their parameters and within seconds can display a complete report showing accurate information, these programs are not just restricted to accounting functions they can also work out valuable statistics and movement information of different segments of the market. the amount of time that a manager needs to complete a task has reduced due to the use of computers, this allows tasks to get done in a more accurate and efficient way.
It has been explained above that although Katz theory was written over half a century ago it is still relevant to the majority of managers. Although the three skills are very broad but still appropriate a as a manager moves up thought the management hierarchy they increase their need for management skills and the balance off skills changes; in the front line positions a manager is required to make use of their technical skills and Human skills where as the majority of managers at the tip of an organisation make use of their staff for the technical skills and can focus on the Conceptual skills and Human Skills. In 1965 Mann tested Katz theories and discovered that not only were they still relevant they are also interrelated. Managers roles are constantly changing with the ongoing advancements of Technology and computer systems tasks which use to take hours to complete can now be completed in a matter of minutes. The day of boardroom meetings are slowly fading away and making way for online video conferences and virtual online training.